Articles filed under General from Vermont
Will wind generation towers adversely impact one of Vermont’s iconic views, the long shimmering expanse of deep Lake Willoughby in the Northeast Kingdom? That is a question that officials in the town of Westmore have raised. They say they are concerned the sight of the proposed Sheffield Wind Farm on mountains located from two to five miles from Lake Willoughby, which is in Westmore, could affect the town’s prestigious National Natural Landmark status.
Aesthetic opposition thus includes reason. The Energy Information Agency has just reported that wind energy produced 0.36 percent of the total electricity generated in the U.S. in 2005 and 0.05 percent of the total energy we used. In European countries where wind produces a significant proportion of electricity, consumption of other fuels continues apace. This is apparently because other plants must stay on line, burning fuel less efficiently to balance the highly intermittent and variable infeed from wind. Giant wind turbines on the grid are sham symbolism, nothing more. Their negative impacts — to the environment, wildlife, people, and communities — are, however, all too real.
CASTLETON — A company thinking about putting a wind farm on Grandpa’s Knob introduced itself to the Select Board on Tuesday. Representatives of Noble Environmental Power met with the Castleton board late Tuesday afternoon to answer questions on just what they were proposing to do. It was the company’s first meeting with the town. The Connecticut-headquartered company has said it is looking at the ridgeline near the Castleton-West Rutland border as a possible site for a 25- to 30-turbine farm generating as much as 65 megawatts of electricity. That would make it the largest wind farm in Vermont. Development manager Duane Enger and development consultant Rob Howland — both based in Vermont — stressed the preliminary nature of Noble’s efforts. “Grandpa’s Knob is probably the closest thing we have to an actual project (in Vermont),” Enger said. “We’ve done preliminary studies and the majority of those studies indicate this would be a good site selection.”
As a writer, I am deeply indebted to the Northeast Kingdom, from which I’ve drawn inspiration for almost 50 years: its woods, fields, ponds, hills, its people, its other creatures. Like most of my neighbors, I favor conservation and renewable energy. The fear of climate change has been with me for many years, ever since I felt the early, subtle signs of it. But I do not support the proposed UPC industrial wind facility.
Paul Brouha of Sutton, who opposes putting big wind towers on our ridge lines, wants Vermont legislators to consider a bill to give financial relief to the ordinary people and small communities who find themselves fighting the monsters. He proposes that developers who look forward to collecting any of the government grants, subsidies or tax breaks available to alternative energy producers should pay the legal expenses of the people who want to stop them. The limit on these expenses would be the total of the grants and subsidies to be collected. We doubt that there’s much hope for the bill in the state Legislature, whatever its merits. But Mr. Brouha’s estimates of how much it costs to fight wind developers before the state Public Service Board (PSB) are surprising. He says the Kingdom Commons Group, which has so far fought to a standstill the plan to put four towers at the old radar site in East Haven, spent $300,000. And the opponents of the UPC Wind proposal in Sheffield will spend about $600,000. That spending, Mr. Brouha says in his “rationale” for the bill, will be shared by the Ridge Protectors, King George School, the town of Sutton and now the town of Barton.
In a political climate charged with heightened anxiety over global warming, hearings got under way Monday on the project to erect wind turbines on the ridge lines of Sheffield. Massachusetts company UPC Wind Partners is seeking through its Vermont subsidiary a certificate of public good from the Public Service Board (PSB) to build what would be the first industrial wind farm in the Northeast Kingdom. The plan calls for 16 turbines to be mounted on towers, which will reach a height of 420 feet when the blade is in a vertical position, according to testimony from a panel of three company vice presidents. Wind towers on Vermont ridge lines have mushroomed into a long-standing controversy, and opponents may have received a boost in a ruling handed down by the board Monday, prior to the opening of testimony.
A Connecticut firm is considering building what would be Vermont’s largest wind farm on Grandpa’s Knob, a rocky outcrop about eight miles northwest of Rutland. If the company goes ahead, the site could support 30 to 35 turbines generating up to 50 megawatts, a company official said. A spokeswoman for Noble Environmental Power said Thursday the project was still very much in a preliminary phase — so preliminary that Castleton officials said the first they heard of it was when they were contacted by a reporter Wednesday.
BRATTLEBORO — After two tense public hearings, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) told area residents that an initial analysis finds there would be minimal environmental impact if Vermont Yankee were allowed to operate for an additional 20 years. About 50 people showed up Wednesday night in Brattleboro to comment on the draft report. Entergy Vermont Yankee’s (ENVY) operating license expires in 2012 and has filed an application to renew its license. An initial step in that process is the completion of an environmental impact statement (EIS), where Vermont Yankee is inspected thoroughly for any possible damages in might incur on the environment.
Noble Environmental Power of Essex, Conn., has begun talks with landowners along a ridge in Rutland County, the first step in what could become a 25-tower, 50-megawatt wind energy project that would be the largest wind farm proposed in Vermont. “We are certainly interested in Grandpas Knob, but it is very preliminary,” Brian Kelly, the company’s Northeast development director, confirmed Wednesday. He said the company might apply soon for permits to put up wind-measuring towers. Grandpas Knob is a 2,000-foot bump northwest of Rutland City, on the border between Castleton and West Rutland. Fifty-six years ago, engineers put up the nation’s first big wind turbine there. The experiment ran off and on from 1941 to 1945, when one of the turbine’s 75-foot blades snapped off.
Shumlin suggested replacing Vermont Yankee, which supplies about one-third of the state's energy supply, with enJon Day of Newark was adamantly opposed to Shumlin's views. "What I disagree with and don't support is scare tactics to further a political agenda," Day said. "I'm not saying I think climate change is a hoax. I'm saying it is being used to promote things that are not solutions." He is vehemently opposed to the proposed wind turbine projects in the Northeast Kingdom. "I strongly support Sutton as well as the many Sheffield residents who are like-minded, and the NEK, against venture capitalists masquerading as environmentalists," Day said. "There is only one reason these projects are planned in Vermont and that is financial gain. I might add at our pain." ergy from wind turbines, solar power and hydro power. .....
Technical hearings before the Public Service Board began Monday to determine if UPC Vermont Wind should receive a certificate of public good to erect 16 420-foot-high wind turbines in Sheffield. The hearings are scheduled to continue for two weeks. Key witnesses Monday were UPC representatives Dave Cowen, Steve Vavrik and Scott Rowland. They fielded questions from a bank of lawyers representing the Department of Public Service; the Agency of Natural Resources; the Ridge Protectors, a group of citizens opposed to the project; and the King George School, a private high school also opposed to the turbines.
Is there an interested buyer for the East Haven wind project? The answer is no, according to Mathew Rubin, project manager for EMDC, parent company of East Haven Windfarm. “There is no potential buy,” Rubin said Wednesday. “Our project is in a holding pattern waiting to see what happens in Sheffield.” This belies an e-mail message sent to Ken Mason, manager of the Lyndonville Electric Department, from William Piper, attorney for LED. “Earlier this week I got a voice mail from Matt Rubin informing me that there is a party who may be interested in acquiring his East Haven wind farm project at the old radar site on East Mountain,” Piper wrote. “Presumably, if that were to happen, this new developer would want LED to reopen its [Section] 248 proceeding to building the power line to connect the project.”
South Farm, a six-home development on the edge of Hinesburg village, is one of the first -- if not the first -- Vermont subdivision to aim for "net-zero" status, meaning over the course of a year it will generate more electricity from clean, renewable sources than it draws from utility power lines. Succeeding also means close to zero emissions of carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas.
Voters overwhelmingly opposed the wind tower proposal slated for neighboring Sheffield and Sutton on Tuesday evening. The unanimous opposition provided the town selectmen with precisely the overwhelming sense of direction they lacked last fall. “I think it was clear,” Selectman Robert Croteau said. “It’s not like we only had 25 or 30 people or even 60 or 70.” An estimated 120 voters turned out to make their position, and that of their town, unmistakably clear. That clarity, however, may have little effect on the Public Service Board (PSB), which must decide whether to issue a certificate of public good for the 16 towers UPC Vermont Wind wants to build.
Vermont has a long history of protecting its undeveloped ridgelines. Previous legislatures have struggled to protect this beautiful landscape for us and we hope this legislature will be just as vigilant in protecting it for those who will follow.
On the theory that you go where you’re welcome, a wind power developer announced Tuesday it is dropping its bid to build two of 16 planned wind turbines in Sutton, moving them instead to Sheffield. But at the same time it tried to ease objections in one town, it got slammed by a special town vote in the town of Barton. About 150 residents there unanimously voted Tuesday to advise selectmen to oppose the neighboring Sheffield Wind Farm Tuesday night because it would burden town infrastructure and hurt tourism. “I’m blown away,” said Selectman Dan McMasters after the vote. “We’re going to challenge it (the wind farm) the best we can and we’re upset we couldn’t jump in. I wish we could go back in time,” he added referring to how Barton officials missed a Public Service Board deadline to intervene early in the process.
BRATTLEBORO -- There is no place for the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant in Sen. Bernard Sanders' plan to combat greenhouse gas emissions. Monday, Sanders announced he was reintroducing an ambitious bill to reduce pollution associated with global warming. The bill was first introduced by his predecessor, Jim Jeffords. Sanders is co-sponsoring the bill with fellow Vermonter, Sen. Patrick Leahy. When asked how nuclear power fits into the Global Warming Pollution Reduction Act, Sanders replied, "it doesn't." "Our bill focuses on energy efficiency and it focuses on sustainability. It doesn't deal with nuclear power," said Sanders, in a telephone interview Monday night. Sanders said there was one major reason why nuclear power doesn't belong in the act. "We are dealing with highly toxic radioactive substances and we don't know of a way to dispose of them safely," he said.
MONTPELIER, Vt. --On the theory that you go where you're welcome, a wind power developer announced Tuesday it is dropping its bid to build two of 16 planned wind turbines in Sutton, moving them instead to Sheffield. UPC Vermont Wind filed papers with the Public Service Board asking for the change, saying its request followed a suggestion by the Department of Public Service and would put the entire $75 million project in the much more welcoming of the two Northeast Kingdom communities.
When residents here show up next week at a special town meeting to decide if the town should take a position on the Sheffield wind farm proposal, the question of home rule will inevitably arise. Home rule or local control has suddenly come center stage of the wind debate, thanks in part to recent testimony on the Sheffield wind project from the Department of Public Service (DPS). Presented last month to the Public Service Board, that testimony specifically supports the siting of the project’s wind towers —everything else being equal — in the towns that want them.
The vote on Jan. 16 will be my first in Barton. I’m looking forward to helping send a clear message to the Barton Board of Selectmen, Vermont’s Public Service Board, and others that solutions to creating energy independence must necessarily focus on renewable energy sources that are sustainable as well as reflect and respect the local resources, community and way of life. The UPC Vermont Wind proposal must be resoundingly rejected. The electricity debate must move forward. Vermont must maintain its leadership role in promoting energy programs that make sense. For while I’ve learned that there isn’t much wind up here, there are substantial, renewable and sustainable energy sources to be tapped into here in the NEK, just ask your neighbors.